Every experience with a new language and culture worth a fortune. Let Sofia, an Italian girl, studying the first year of Veterinary tell you about her exchange trip to China.

Sofia keeps improving her Chinese skills with our native teacher, Xiaochun Luo.

Hello Sofia, what was your first contact with Chinese? I mean, there are so many European languages, why Chinese?

During the third year of high school, some AFS volunteers came to my school talking about their intercultural program. I had to choose 10 countries where I wanted to spend the following year and I put China in the first place. Why? Because Chinese culture is very different from the Italian one so I was curious about it, also because I wanted to learn the language. After a series of selection, I managed to go exactly where I wanted to go, China! I was very excited but afraid too.

Sofia’s high school in China.

How did you feel when you knew you were going to China?

In the beginning, it was hard because I was just 17 years old, far from my family, alone in a country so different from mine, without knowing the language. But eventually, after learning the language, after knowing the culture, and making friends with people from all over the world, I started to enjoy being there! The year 2015-2016 was an amazing, challenging year.

A typical question that everyone will ask you: Is Chinese a super difficult language?

I speak Italian, English, Spanish and a bit of French so I can tell that Chinese is very difficult to learn and easy to forget. Despite this, I think it is a beautiful language, especially the calligraphy, I love it!

What are the things you like the most about Chinese culture?

Sofia visits Yunnan province.

In China, I lived with my host family. At first, we couldn’t understand each other, because of the language but also because of the culture. For example, the first thing that happened to me when I arrived at my Chinese home was that I had to take off my shoes before entering. This surprised me a lot, I couldn’t understand it, but then I accepted it (just as the saying ‘When in Rome, do as the Romans do’). A thing that I learned in China: don’t judge if you don’t know.

Thank you very much. As you can see, she has a specific reason to study one of the most difficult languages in the world. How about you? Give it a try and see where you will end up.

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